Ya Got Trouble – right here in Glen Ellen

A counterculture (also written counter-culture) is a subculture whose values and norms of behavior differ substantially from those of mainstream society, often in opposition to mainstream cultural mores. (Wikipedia)



Ann’s blog about the “counter culture” comes on the heels of a recent BigLittleMeals dinner party featuring a pool and pinball tournament in our basement.  This gives me an opening to reach back into my sociological past to explain how the game of pool may nurture counter-cultural values and norms.

Culture, social values and norms were the grist of the texts I assigned to my intro sociology students back in the “good old days.”  By good old days I am referring to when students paid outlandish sums for text books that they would never consider keeping but could sell back to the bookstores at the end of the semester for a pittance of what they paid.  My students may not have learned much from me about culture and norms, but the text book industry undoubtedly taught them lots about capitalism and corporate greed.

But I digress.  Let’s get back to pool and associated deviant behavior.  Actually, there is no need to crack a sociology text for this.  In the song Ya Got Trouble, Professor Harold Hill (played by Robert Preston in the Music Man) tells us all we need to know about the perils of pool for upending the morals and social values of young men and women. Here are just a few examples from the lyrics:

Friend, either you’re closing your eyes
To a situation you do not wish to acknowledge
Or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated
By the presence of a pool table in your community

Ya got one, two, three, four, five, six pockets in a table
Pockets that mark the diff’rence
Between a gentlemen and a bum

And all week long your River City
Youth’ll be fritterin’ away
I say your young men’ll be fritterin’!
Fritterin’ away their noontime, suppertime, choretime too!
Get the ball in the pocket
Never mind gettin’ dandelions pulled
Or the screen door patched or the beefsteak pounded

Would ya like to know what kinda conversation goes
On while they’re loafin’ around that Hall?
They be tryin’ out Bevo, tryin’ out cubebs
Tryin’ out Tailor Mades like cigarette fiends! …

and starting to memorize jokes from Cap’n Billy’s Whiz Bang

Keep in mind that the Music Man is set in 1912, so some of the terms in these lyrics may be unfamiliar.  But no problem, I came across this web site with a glossary of terms from the lyrics.  Here are three I didn’t know:

Screen Shot 2020-03-06 at 2.24.24 PM

Bevo: A non-alcoholic beer (“near beer” or “cereal beverage”) brewed by Anheuser-Busch.

Screen Shot 2020-03-06 at 2.24.55 PM

Cubebs are cigarettes made with cubeb, the spicy fruit of an East Indian climbing shrub, Piper cubeba, of the pepper family, dried and used as a stimulant and diuretic, as a treatment for asthma, chronic pharyngitis, and hay fever.

Screen Shot 2020-03-06 at 2.25.14 PM

Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang was a monthly men’s humor magazine published by Wilford Hamilton “Captain Billy” Fawcett. 

To truly appreciate the social evils of pool you must hear the full version of Robert Preston’s Ya Got Trouble.  Fortunately, it just so happens that I have a copy right here.  To add a little dramatic zing to the song I have included photos of some of the derelicts and shady characters who frequent our basement pool table.  Nevertheless, be sure to focus on the lyrics (see them here) because some of this material will be on the final exam!



  1. Helen Weaver says:

    I loved it and sure do remember the music man, maybe not right here in Glen Ellen but ever one did a good acting job. I was very happy Uno didn’t fall in the hole, pocket? Good job Andy.


    • theRaggedys says:

      Thanks for the comment. If the cat had fallen into the pocket would that mean she “scratched”? (in case you don’t know, scratching in pool is hitting your cue ball in a pocket – so that was supposed to be funny).


    • theRaggedys says:

      The song is from The Music Man which opened on December 19, 1957, at the Majestic Theatre. It remained at the Majestic for nearly three years before transferring to The Broadway Theatre to complete its 1,375-performance run on April 15, 1961. BTW – I graduated from high school in 1961. How old were you then?


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